Saturday, June 03, 2023

Fare turbulence: Summer travel plans scupper in vacuum left by Go First

Airfares on several leisure routes have skyrocketed, foiling travel plans of summer tourists or making their budgets go awry. For instance, Delhi-Leh return fare had touched Rs 52,000 — the same as for Delhi-Paris return — some days back in this peak demand season, TOI has reported. The steep jump in airfares on certain routes comes after Go First grounded flights from 3 May, removing capacity from the aviation sector.

A few weeks ago, the government had asked airlines to exercise moderation and ensure a balance in pricing of air tickets amid a spike in airfares after suspension of Go First flights. However, the government has no plans to regulate airfares. Taking cognisance of the surge in airfares, Union aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia has put together a group to study the spikes. Scindia said there had been a pullback on the 315 routes Go First was operating. "So there is excess demand on those routes, though we have given those routes to other airlines,” he said on Thursday. Airfares are market driven and are neither established nor regulated by the government.

Go First had high frequency on leisure destinations such as Srinagar, Leh and Goa, according to data by aviation analytics firm Cirium. Pune and Ahmedabad too have been affected.

Data from Cirium show that according to the schedule filed by Go First for May, the airline was supposed to operate 199 flights from Delhi to Srinagar, 182 flights on the Delhi-Leh route and 156 flights from Mumbai to Goa. The airline also accounted for six of 30 non-stop flights on the Delhi-Srinagar and Mumbai-Goa routes, six of the 52 daily Delhi-Mumbai flights, five of the 13 Delhi-Leh flights and three of the 10 flights on the Delhi-Bagdogra route.

Airfares are already higher this summer than in the previous season as carriers are unable to deploy full capacity. This is due to a supply chain constraint that has resulted in a slowdown of aircraft delivery. Domestic air travel has been hitting new all-time highs since this March and all airlines are reporting over 90% occupancy.

02/06/2023 Economic Times

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